Viewing entries tagged
Urban Agriculture

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BoxUP Launch: Humanim American Brewery Building

Cultivating Produce + Progress in East Baltimore

Urban Pastoral is proud to announce the launch our first modular farm, BoxUP, at Humanim, Inc. The Humanim American Brewery Building is located in the heart of East Baltimore, and serves as an anchor for a community that was once a prominent manufacturing hub. With the help of local community leaders and home grown entrepreneurs, there is an urban revival a foot in East Baltimore. Food is at the core of this moment, and will serve as a catalyst for organic economic growth.

UP partnered with prominent social enterprise, Humanim, because of the convergence of our missions and visions for what Baltimore can be. Over the past twenty + years, Humanim has played an immense role in community empowerment through workforce development. Humanim is a dynamic non-profit organization that has created a network of jobs for underserved communities by building economically  sustainable social enterprises, such as Details, a contracting business that trains individuals to deconstruct and rebuild historic houses. Humanim employees are gaining independence and empowerment, all while rebuilding the communities they live in. 

UP is thrilled to work with Humanim to create a new green job market for underserved communities through next generation farming.

Below is a photo gallery from our launch. If you are a teacher, administrator, community leader, or are simply interested in coming by, please shoot us an email and schedule a tour.

Stay tuned for more updates on our FarmUP development at Green Street Academy in West Baltimore.

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UP Selected as Global Health & Innovation Prize Finalists

2015 Unite For Sight Global Health & Innovation Prize (Yale University)

2015 Unite For Sight Global Health & Innovation Prize (Yale University)

J.J. had the honor of being selected to represent Urban Pastoral as both a Social Impact Lab Speaker and an Innovation Prize finalist at the Unite for Sight, Global Health & Innovation Conference this past weekend. The 12th annual conference, hosted at Yale University, brought together thought leaders in Medicine, Healthcare Innovation, Public Policy, International Development, and Social Entrepreneurship, from across the globe to engage in an interactive open dialogue with over 800 participants. The conference began primarily as a medical themed forum 12 years ago, and has evolved into an expansive discussion that explores the social determinants of health through many different lens.

Healthcare innovation was a prominent topic throughout the conference, but one could not help but notice that themes of tied to agriculture, nutrition, and environmental sustainability seemed to permeate through every discussion. There was a shift from surgical techniques, and advanced technology to preventative care and human centered design. 

J.J. began the first day of the conference delivering a talk on the importance of urban food production. On his panel was Joe Whinney, Founder & CEO of Seattle Based fair-trade chocolate company, Theo Chocolate, and Rodney North, spokesperson for Equal Exchange, a worker owned co-operative dedicated to conducting fair-trade business around the globe.  

This year, Unite for Sight launched the GHIC Innovation Prize to award social innovators $15,000 in grants to help facilitate an impact project. Over 200 applicants went through multi-rounds of submissions, until the competition was paired down to 22 semi-finalists, who have to deliver a 2-minute pitch in front of industry judges and over 350 conference participants. Our pitch was 1 of 6 selected to move on to the finalist round, where J.J. engaged in a 5-minute presentation and 20 minutes of questions with judges and audience members. The prize was one by Yale'13 Alumna Lucy Topaloff for her concept MiracleFeet, which created a low-cost solution to treating clubbed foot disorder. Although, Urban Pastoral did not walk away with the prize, it was a tremendous honor to share our company, and interact with such bright social entrepreneurs.  

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Agritecture Vertical Farming Workshop

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Agritecture Vertical Farming Workshop

Keep Growing
— Agritecture

The UPC team had an incredible opportunity to participate in the 2015 Agritecture Workshop on behalf of the Association for Vertical Farming. The workshop was held at Columbia University in New York, and it attracted a passionate group of scientists, engineers, designers, architects, and entrepreneurs from around the globe who seek to use urban agriculture as a vehicle for social, economic, and environmental change. The event began with remarks from Dickson Despommier, author of the Vertical Farm. Despommier is widely regarded as the father of the movement, and was an immense inspiration for the UPC team and many other aspiring urban agricultural entrepreneurs across the globe. Despommier spoke about the inception of this idea in the walls of his Columbia classroom, and how it has blossomed into a global movement. Urban agriculture is the future of food production, and innovation in this field is of vital importance to the resiliency of our cities. 

Three multidisciplinary teams were formed and given 24 hours to build a feasible model including architectural renderings, business plan, and financials for an urban agricultural development in 12 locations across the NY. Julie's team selected a brown field site owned by the National Grid company for the purpose of remediation. J.J.'s team selected a site in Far Rockaway, a community that was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. All groups utilized a mix of innovative technology, ecological processes, and community development strategies to help empower these downtrodden communities. Below is a video of the "Rockaway Collective," team, pitching their concept to a group of industry experts and venture Capitalists.  

The UPC team was incredibly honored to participate in a special event with such an amazing group of brilliant minds. We would like to extend a special thanks to our hosts, Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder of Agritecture, and Max Loessl, Founder of the Association for Vertical Farming. Similar to Tesla, Henry and Max are collecting invaluable industry data and building an open source database tool to share with the planet in order to progress the industry forward. As we strive to build a more sustainable future for our planet, we must unite and facilitate innovative collaboration.

As our friends at the AVF and Agritecture say, "keep growing."

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Visiting Cylburn Aquaponics Lab

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Visiting Cylburn Aquaponics Lab

UPC is in the process of working with real estate developers and local government entities to locate an ideal space for our operations. UPC has the versatility to act as both an anchor institution and a production facility. Our vision is a combined production and retail concept that is woven into the fabric of the Baltimore community.

Last Week, the UPC team had the opportunity to visit the Cylburn Aquaponics Farm, operated by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The project was developed by experts from renowned food systems think tank, The Center for a Livable Future (CLF). This initiative is spearheaded by aquaculture expert Dave Love, and farm manager, Laura Genello. Cylburn acts as both a research lab and an educational farm for the community. The farms hosts anyone from school age children to commercial growers interested in alternative growing methods. The CLF also offers a summer program, that acts as a crash course in aquaponic growing. UPC is arranging to partner with Cylburn and the CLF to test our vertical growing methods and various crop varietals in their greenhouse. Consumer education and interaction are vital as we grow our company. This opportunity will provide valuable insight into how the community interacts with our product.  

Laura lead us on a tour of the farm, and explained the intricacies of the system, and how it recycles and circulates water / nutrients to grow a wide variety of plants. Laura harvests the produce, and sells it at the Waverly Farmers Market on saturdays. The farm also raises tilapia which, and their waste serves as nutrients for the growing process. Laura explained how tilapia are an ideal fish species for aquaponic production because of their resiliency and growth rate, however, they the cost of heating the tanks for this tropical, Nile fish, is high. Below is a video of the farm and how the process worked

UPC is excited to work with Laura and the CLF to test our vertical growing methods and learn from their wealth of expertise in the field.

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